The push for Kobe Bryant Drive and Gianna Bryant Way in Philadelphia

There’s a push to turn a part of Columbia Avenue into Gianna Bryant Way and Lancaster Avenue into Kobe Bryant Drive. Meet the driving force behind the movement.

Listen 6:00
LeRoy McCarthy holds up a street sign for the proposed Kobe Bryant Drive. (Courtesy of LeRoy McCarthy)

LeRoy McCarthy holds up a street sign for the proposed Kobe Bryant Drive. (Courtesy of LeRoy McCarthy)

Vanessa Bryant, the wife of the late NBA superstar Kobe Bryant won $16 million in a lawsuit against Los Angeles County over leaked photos of the helicopter crash that claimed the lives of her famous husband, their 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others in 2020. The verdict came just two days after what would have been Kobe’s 44th birthday.

“Kobe Bryant is one of the top basketball players in the history of the game,” said Leroy McCarthy, a location scout for feature films and television. “And although he lived on the Main Line, he is a part of Philadelphia.”

McCarthy hopes to honor the legacy of Kobe and Gianna Bryant by renaming two streets in Overbrook, one extending along the Main Line.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

He wants to turn a section from North 60th Street to Columbia Avenue into Gianna Bryant Way, and Lancaster Avenue to City Line Avenue would become Kobe Bryant Drive.

It could happen. McCarthy has a track record — he was the force behind renaming a part of City Ave. between Monument Road and Presidential Boulevard after Ed Bradley, the late 60 Minutes correspondent and Cheyney grad, who began his broadcast career at WDAS.

(Courtesy of LeRoy McCarthy)

He also helped to get a street renamed after the Philly-grown band, The Roots.

Outside of Philadelphia, McCarthy led the effort to rename part of St James Place in Brooklyn “Christopher Wallace Way,” after the late rapper Notorious B.I.G.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor
(Courtesy of LeRoy McCarthy)

On top of all that, McCarthy helped get an intersection of the Lower East Side in New York City named “Beastie Boys Square” and a section of Staten Island renamed “Wu Tang Clan District.

“I have a kind of a knowledge of locations, hip hop, entertainment, sports, and putting those things together with my knowledge of working with government officials. I can reach out to get certain things done,” said McCarthy, citing his experience working on movies like Spike Lee’s “He Got Game.”

(Courtesy of LeRoy McCarthy)

Kobe Bryant grew up in Lower Merion and played basketball at Lower Merion High School in Ardmore.

The region, like the rest of the world, grieved his tragic loss and the loss of his daughter GiGi in 2020. McCarthy says he chose the location for the renamed streets because they lead to Tustin Playground.

Earlier this year, Vanessa Bryant’s Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation joined Nancy Lieberman Charities for a ribbon cutting ceremony to dedicate two new outdoor basketball “Dream” courts and a public arts mural at the Tustin playground. The project features and commemorates Kobe and Gianna Bryant in the place where Bryant honed much of his “mamba” mentality.

McCarthy said it just made sense to work to rename the area and intersection near Tustin after Kobe and Gianna.

“Gianna wasn’t born in Philadelphia, but her father was,” McCarthy said, “and Kobe’s dad played for the Sixers, so that legacy has been there for decades.”

File photo: In this July 26, 2018, photo, former Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna watch the U.S. national championships swimming meet in Irvine, Calif. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson, File)

McCarthy said he’s in talks with the offices of Philadelphia City Councilmember Curtis Jones and State Sen. Vincent Hughes to consider the effort. He says he reached out to the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation and got positive feedback as well.

McCarthy says he hopes the renaming efforts can come to fruition next term — a dedication could take longer. “It’s been a really emotional time,” said McCarthy. “So I’ll leave it to the estate to decide when the time is right.”

In the meantime, McCarthy will keep pushing to recognize key figures in sports, hip hop and Black culture. He also has his sights set on recognizing Cheyney University’s women’s basketball team from 1982, which played in the first NCAA Division I women’s championship game. They went into the match on the back of a 23-game winning season.

Artist Nikkolas Smith views a mural depicting Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in Los Angeles, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022. The mural, painted by Odeith and Smith, was unveiled Wednesday to celebrate Kobe Bryant Day. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Get the WHYY app!

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal